Contributory negligence refers to the situation whereby a person making a compensation claim (claimant) was partly responsible for the accident.
Whether the claimant is putting forward a compensation claim for personal injury, such as a slip, trip and fall injury, an accident at work or for a car accident, for example, they are still responsible for reducing their own risk of injury at the time the incident happens.
At work, your employer has a duty of care to you – meaning that they should be making it a priority and taking all measures to ensure your health and safety is not at risk in the workplace. Similarly, on the roads, other drivers should be driving responsibly to ensure they’re not putting fellow motorists at risk.
But it’s not just them - you have a responsibility too. If you also failed to take actions to reduce your own risk of injury, then you would be deemed partly liable.
In this case, the liability would be split between the claimant and defendant – thus the amount of compensation would be lowered. Read on for some examples.
Here are a few simple examples of cases involving contributory negligence:
The contributory factor that you may be deemed partly liable for doesn’t always mean that it was a cause of the accident - it could just mean that your action exacerbated your injury, as in the seatbelt example above.
Before the year 1945, the legal terms regarding contributory negligence in line with the tort of negligence meant that in an accident, if the claimant was partly responsible, the claim would have been nullified. Neither the claimant nor defendant would have awarded compensation.
Then once the Law Reform Contributory Negligence Act was introduced and established in 1945, this legislation was altered - the changes meant that the courts had some flexibility in determining the extent of liability regarding all parties, and can then judge how much compensation should be awarded. It remains this way today.
The cost of any damages or injury that the claimant was partly responsible for will be lowered “as the court thinks just and equitable”, according to the legislation.
Accidents and personal injury claims differ in so many different ways, major and minor - contributing factors differ from case to case.
For these reasons, the court will look at each case individually and the judges will determine liability according to the specific circumstances.
After looking at all the evidence regarding the incident, the judge may decide that both parties were at fault in some way. In this case, they will look at awarding compensation to the claimant on the grounds of a split liability agreement.
Generally, a split liability agreement is most commonly applied to road traffic accidents, but that’s not to say it can’t be applied to other types of cases.
In essence, this type of agreement is used by the court when awarding the claimant compensation in relation to the extent to which they are liable. For example:
At Cute Injury, we can help if you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault. We work with solicitors who operate compensation claims on a No Win No Fee basis.
This means that you do not have to pay any upfront fees. If the personal injury lawyer assigned to you doesn’t win your case – you won’t have to pay legal fees.
If, on the other hand, they are successful and win your case, then you’ll have to pay a ‘success fee’ that will be deducted from the final compensation amount. By working on this basis, you aren’t financially out of your own pocket.
If you’d like advice or simply just more information regarding personal injury claims, give us a call today! It’s free and you’re at no obligation to make a claim with us.